I absolutely loved the aluminum Cannondale Topstone for what it was: a nicely spec’d, well-riding, off-the-shelf all-road bike that has Cannondale’s DNA with build options ranging from $1,050 to $2,100. It was a great bike at a solid price that didn’t skimp on the build kit or frame design. So when Cannondale launched the Carbon Topstone, with new passive suspension design, I was interested in seeing how the bike would ride. To come out with such an evolved design from the original Topstone, it had to be worth it, right? Well… it’s complicated.
Most cyclists, and even non-cyclists, who enjoy the type of bike racing that involves going up and down hills know the name Eddy Merckx and of course The Tour de France. Road racing, and the companies associated with it, do a great job of embracing its European heritage and consistently reminding us of how the sport evolved into what it is today. This makes it easy easy to get pulled into the romanticized parts of road racing when companies like Campagnolo, Colnago, and Bianchi do such a great job of celebrating their places in what makes the sport special.
Last year’s Cannondale Topstone review generated quite the buzz over here, so when Cannondale sent me a Topstone Carbon to review, I was intrigued to see what changed between the lower pricepoint aluminum and this new, fancy carbon model. Turns out, a lot! The biggest being an all-new, BallisTec Carbon, Kingpin suspension system which locks the seat stays together with a thru-axle, allowing for dampening on rough terrain. Read on below for more!
A few years ago, the disparity between road bikes, disc road bikes, and all-road bikes was very high. It was hard to find a disc road bike or all-road that had hydraulic brakes, clearance for 42mm tires, and extra bottle bosses for under $3,000. In the last year, the amount of all-road models on the market has increased drastically, which is great for the consumer! Bigger brands who typically address racing have looked to expand into all-road, gravel, and adventure platforms. Even Cannondale has thrown their hat in the ring with the affordable Topstone. I can’t help but think about how a bike like this would have blown the market apart a few years ago but how does it stack up against the already hefty list of options out there?
These days, it seems a lot of brands are looking to their heritage to market their new bikes. Sure, nostalgia sells, but more often than not, throwbacks are more like head-scratchers. Not with the new Cannondale XC frames. Two new F-Si Hi-MOD framesets come with matching Lefty Ocho forks and painted in the classic livery from the early days of XC racing. Choose the Viper Red or Team Blue.
The Team Blue color features yellow “quad-wrap” decals, a head nod, without the head shock, to the CAAD3, CAAD4 and CAAD5 raced in the late 90’s to early 2000’s.
See more at Cannondale.
Photos by John Watson, words by Sean Talkington of Team Dream Team
Almost exactly a year ago, I flew out to Connecticut to take a tour of Cannondale’s headquarters, grab quick lunch with Lebron James, and discuss the possibility of doing a collaborative bike for Team Dream. To say I’m a cycling fanboy is a massive understatement. This is the kind of idea I have pined over for years.
The all new Cannondale Topstone is the most ambitious all-road, all-day, all-over the damn place bike they’ve designed to date. Discover it for yourself at Cannondale.
After breaking my fork, putting some deep scratches into the head tube paint, and getting a replacement fork from Cannondale that wasn’t going to match, I decided to get my Evo repainted. Choosing color is an agonizing process, but this idea fell into place really easily: early 90’s Cannondale Track’s are on of my all-time favorite bikes, Cannondale Track bike vinyl decals can be sourced from Britain, and the simple lines of the frame would really lend itself to this idea. Besides, ‘classics are classics for a reason.’
The painter, Eric of Burnt Bicycles, is a super rad dude who does work fairly close-by. I'd sent him a couple other frames for carbon repair+repaint and knew he'd kill this. Sure enough, had this frame and a paint matched stem back to me within 2 weeks, recreating the color from scratch.
Polished silver quill stems really go hand-in-hand with the Cannondale track bikes and knowing that Ritchey makes a sick polished cockpit with their Classic series, I couldn't not try it out. It looks so good, simple, and clean up front that I refuse to clutter up the front end with a mount and computer. Carbon seat post because ain't nobody got time for beat-up-booties.
See more at Ornot's blog!
The Slate was a gamble for Cannondale. My review of the bike generated a lot of controversies and it’s understandable. Questions along the line of “why?…” still pop up when I see photos of Slates online. Yet, there’s something about riding one that injected a bit of fun on even the most mundane dirt road rides. Jossue loved his Slate. I first saw him riding it on a TGSCIF Ride earlier in the summer, where he ripped the derailleur hanger off. Shortly after, he broke the frame. He was bummed out and wanted to assess his options.
After talking to Kyle at Golden Saddle, Jossue decided on a Niner RLT9 fork with a Lefty adapter for the tapered headtube. The entire Slate kit was easy to swap over and he even gained a little more room in the chainstays with the RLT9 to be able to ride a beefier tire. The Lefty Oliver didn’t alter the geometry too much, and in the end, injected the RLT9 with a bit more fun, perfect for this Cherry Canyon loop.
Cannondale took an interesting spin on a literary legend for their latest video, featuring Jerome Clementz on Robinson Crusoe Island.
The latest from Brian Vernor checks all the boxes for those who either love this region already or hold a curiosity that could ignite a journey of their own…
“Three friends ride bicycles 192 miles through the California desert, from Badwater Basin to White Mt. Peak. Along the way they ascend over 24,000 vertical feet, and experience a 70 degrees shift in temperature. Before embarking the riders plan their ride carefully and leave food and water along the route in old ammunition canisters for later consumption. Unsupported from beginning to end, the riders carried small cameras and filmed themselves during the ride, capturing serendipitous moments like a dusk flyby of a group of owls and a desperate dive into a grungy bathroom to escape from the cold.”
Living in a hustling, bustling, breathing city can take it out of you, which is why those moments of escapism need to be as simple as possible…
Allan Thom takes his Porsche Safari and Cannondale Slate out for a midwest dirt jaunt. Check out more at Cannondale.
Off-roading in a truck and on a bike in Vermont? Sounds like a great time!
Independence, California is the portal to Onion Valley road, one of the many climbs in the Lone Pine to Bishop corridor. Like Horseshoe Meadows and Whitney Portal, Onion Valley goes, straight up in the Eastern Sierra mountains. If you’d like to step back into the archives on the Radavist, Ryan Wilson has documented this area thoroughly. While shooting Team Dream’s new Spring apparel line, I took the time to document each of the road bikes the guys were riding. These are these rider’s own road bikes. They’re not props. Nor were they sent in from the companies for some web-time.
Danny Heeley works at the Cub House part time. He’s a track racing national champ – holla! – and loves British comedy. He bought this, Made in the USA CAAD5 from eBay a while back and built it up with a hodgepodge kit of Ultegra and Dura Ace. Then Sean gave him the Mavic wheels and viola, this beaut is on the road again.
We were staying around the corner from the famous Independence, California USPS and I couldn’t think of a better locale to shoot this bike.